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There are numerous qualitative test methods to evaluate the flammability characteristics of industrial fluids (e.g., hydraulic fluids). These methods generally are based on potentially hazardous scenarios such as ignition of fluid droplets by a hot manifold or fluid sprays by an open flame. However, there is a need for a reproducible, quantitative, bench-scale test for screening the potential flammability of industrial fluids in such a way that good engineering data are also obtained. Preliminary laboratory evaluations were conducted using the “cone calorimeter,” according to ASTM E1354, to assess the feasibility of this technique as a standard test method for industrial fluids. Specimens ranging in volume up to 28 mL in pans up to 100 mm diameter were evaluated, although most testing was conducted using 14 mL in 77 mm diameter pans. The specimens were exposed to external radiant heat fluxes of 25 to 50 kW/m2. Measured parameters included ignition time, heat release rate, mass loss, effective heat of combustion, and smoke evolution. The seven fluids evaluated had a broad range of flammability and smoke properties. Limited large scale comparison tests were conducted with 0.9 m diameter pool fires. The versatility, reliability and accuracy of the cone calorimeter applied to industrial fluids make it a viable candidate for consideration as a standard test method for screening and fire hazard analysis.
cone calorimeter, heat release, heat of combustion, smoke obscuration, calorimetry, heat flux, hydraulic fluids, pool fire
Director of Research, Omega Point Laboratories, Inc., Elmendorf, TX
Fire Test Technologist, Omega Point Laboratories, Inc., Elmendorf, TX